Methodist Hospital plans to knock down at least 15 buildings that it owns in Park Slope in order to build new ambulatory centers, the Brooklyn Paper reports, including 19th-century row houses on Fifth Street and other buildings on Sixth Street as well as Eighth Avenue. They would be replaced “with out-patient facilities that could be as much as seven stories high.” While some of the buildings are presently unoccupied, others house residents who would be forced to move. (The hospital has promised to find them comparable housing at comparable rents.) Many of Park Slope’s residential buildings are protected as part of its large historic district, the largest in the city, but these would fall outside of those boundaries.
Not to be too romantic about old buildings—I have mixed feelings about gigantic landmarked historic districts—but tearing down beautiful homes to put up hospital structures seems, aesthetically, like a crime. Over the weekend, Brave New World Repertory Theater staged a 1929 play set on New York stoops on Fifth Street, in front of two homes (utilizing their front steps and apartment windows) up the block from some of those planned to be razed; among other things, the performance functioned as a celebration of local history: by recreating the sort of street life that still animated the city 100 years ago, the production called across time, connecting us to our long-dead predecessors as powerfully as crossing Brooklyn ferry while reading Walt Whitman. Try doing that with an ambulatory center.
Less abstractly, I understand that hospital services are necessary to the city, but it seems like something’s wrong when hospitals across the borough are closing and Methodist is planning to raze buildings. As one commenter succinctly explains, “Seems insane to turn [Long Island College Hospital] into condos for the money”—a plan recently scrapped, at least for now—”and then tear down a row of brownstones to expand Methodist Hospital. Is there no one in charge in Albany? Or are lobbyists and consultants calling the shots up there now?”
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